Rest in Peace, Fr. Larry!

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Father Larry's mother, Rosemary, is presented with the United States flag. Father Larry served in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1965.

Remembered for his holiness and humor, Fr. Lawrence Patrick Dunn, MIC, was laid to rest on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, following a liturgy of Christian burial at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. He was 74.

The Marian Fathers see the timing of Fr. Larry's death as a sign of God's Providence. Father Larry died May 18 —the feast day of the Marians' Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski. In fact, it was the Founder's first feast day following his canonization last June.

"All of Larry's life, but most especially the last 15 years, he exemplified the Marian charism of mercy in the life of our Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski — that, despite the greatest adversities and illness, that it is worth dedicating one's life totally to God and in Mary Immaculate," said Fr. Donald Van Alstyne, MIC, in his homily.

Father Larry, who died at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., had suffered bravely for more than 10 years from Myelodysplastic Anemia, an illness that required frequent blood transfusions and that often left him physically drained.

Yes, Fr. Larry suffered. Shortly before his death, he shared with his Marian brothers that many years ago, seeing so many people in the world suffering, he asked the Lord for the grace to suffer as well.

"He understood the redemptive value of suffering, of being able to help save souls by uniting our suffering with Christ's suffering on the Cross," said Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC, the Marians' novice master and prefect of formation at the Marian Scholasticate in Washington, D.C., where Fr. Larry lived. "Father Larry was offering his suffering specifically for the sake of his fellow Marians."

Father Jim continued, "One thing he would say when preaching — he would direct people's attention to the Crucifix, to Jesus on the Cross, and he would note that the Crucifix has a reverse side, and it's empty. He'd say, 'It's the space for you and me' — meaning, a place where we are united with Christ when we suffer. When we suffer, Christ is there with us."

Suffering and spiritual poverty served as cornerstones for Fr. Larry's vocational call to the priesthood. He was serving in the United States Navy when, one day, while onboard a ship anchored off the coast of a poverty-stricken region, he was deeply moved by the desperation of local children who would dive into shark-infested waters to retrieve coins tossed into the water by his fellow servicemen.

Father Jim said that this experience led Fr. Larry to seek to serve those in material and spiritual poverty. He entered the Marian Fathers in 1969. He was ordained a priest on Aug. 1, 1987. Among his many ministries, he worked as a nurse for S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat), serving the poor and the homeless; was a pastoral associate at the Washington Hospital Center, ministering to the sick; volunteered at Veterans Administration hospitals; was a pastor for two years at Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro, North Carolina; regularly celebrated Mass and heard Confessions at the Divine Mercy Chapel in Brookeville, Maryland, the Malta House Nursing Home in Hyattsville, Maryland, and the chapel of the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Eucharist, including the Gospa Prayer Group; and he heard Confessions regularly at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Like the Marians' renovator, Blessed George Matulatis, Fr. Larry strived "to seek God in all things, to please God in all things, to do all things for the greater glory of God and to bring God into everything," said Fr. Donald in his homily.

Father Larry, who had a deep devotion to St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, owned very few things — a few books, a few CDs, some photographs, and a couple changes of clothing. That's the way he wanted it. His sensitivity to the poor formed him to live a life of material simplicity.

"What I respected so much about Fr. Larry was that there was no gray area with him," recalled his cousin Peter Pietrowski of Long Beach, New York. "There is right, and there is wrong. There is truth, and there is untruth. I always found that very refreshing."

And Fr. Larry was a fun guy to be around.

With an eye roll and a groan, he would famously feign disdain for puns, which only encouraged his fellow Marians to inflict upon him the best and worst they could conjure. Brother Michael Baker, MIC, once taped a clerical collar to a telephone receiver, brought it to Fr. Larry and said, "Father Larry, it's for you. There's a collar on the phone. We have collar I.D."

"That was two-thirds of a pun," Fr. Larry would often declare. "P-U."

In addition to his ministries, Fr. Larry worked on the Marians' admission board and served for a time as the director of vocations. Father Jim recalled that, for Fr. Larry, the most important quality he looked for in young men entering the community was zeal, "because it's the one thing you can't give."

Born on Aug. 17, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, Fr. Larry is survived by his mother, Rosemary, of Brooklyn, and two sisters: Maureen Redding of Brooklyn and Denise Ferrandino of Tampa, Florida.

Addressing his words directly to Fr. Larry's grieving mother and two sisters, Fr. Donald referenced in his homily the shortest, most powerful sentence in all of Scripture, "Jesus wept" (Jn 11:35), from the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

"'Jesus wept' speaks volumes of the extraordinary love of Jesus for his friends," said Fr. Donald. "It speaks volumes of the extraordinary love of Jesus for us; speaks volumes of the extraordinary love of Jesus for you, Rosemary, Maureen, and Denise, and each of your family members and loved ones; speaks volumes of the extraordinary love of Jesus for each soul that God created. He is never happy to see the death of a person. As Jesus observes the deep sadness caused by the death of a loved one, His heart breaks! He weeps!"

Father Donald told the women, "We have a Marian community here who are so devoted to spread God's mercy, in which Fr. Larry promoted so beautifully with authenticity, simplicity, and holiness. You will always be so much a part of us."

Father Larry was buried in the Marian Cemetery on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Here's an excerpt of one of Fr. Larry's talks, titled "Mary, Mercy, and Souls through the eyes of St. Faustina Kowalska," delivered on April 14, 2012:

Gifts can be made in Fr. Larry's name to the Marian Seminarian Campaign.

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Jackie M. - Jun 2, 2017

Fr. Larry was a wonderful and caring priest, faithful to the Catholic Church, humble, witty and funny! His love for God and Our Lady was evident in his words and actions.

As my spiritual director I could always count on him to speak the truth with firmness, yet with mercy and love. There were never any gray areas with Fr. Larry.

As a dear friend he brought laughter and joy to my heart and my family's.

Through Our Lady's intercession may Fr. Larry be granted speedy entrance into Heaven!

Jane - Jun 1, 2017

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have Mercy on us and the whole world. Father, I know God has received you warmly into Paradise. R.I.P.

Jackie - Jun 1, 2017

A wonderful example of what is truly important.

AB - Jun 1, 2017

Thank you for the example of your life, Father.

Fr.Larry Dunn - May 28, 2017

Remembering Fr. Larry with fondness & his love of opera.

Friend - May 27, 2017

Fr. Larry was a fine priest amd friend for nearly
40 years. Rest in peace.